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Writer Fashion: What’s Your Writer Style?

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In my vast research I have found that writers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Which brought me to the thought process of what do you wear when writing that first novel?

When I worked in the professional world, I was someone who dressed every day in business attire. Then came retirement and my fresh adventure of being a novelist. The first month, I dressed as I would go to work. Writing a novel is work, right?

Then my family started asking me where I was going? Even though the sign on my home office door said, ‘Halt, writer at work. Enter at your own risk.’ It seemed they were expecting me to leave at any moment.

Then I joined a writer’s club and seen what they were wearing. That is where my confusion began. Some wore casual office attire, some wore jeans and t-shirts, some were lucky to be wearing any clothes at all. They all looked different. I had dressed professionally for the occasion of my first meeting.

It was then I started my research of how writers dressed. This the result from my massive research:

The Artsy Writer: included scarves, flowing tunics, bright and earth colored, were confident and bold.

The Eclectic Writer: leaned more toward vintage clothing, with cowboy boots paired with lace.

The Sexy Writer: leaned towards short-short skirts and plunging necklines.

The Business Writer: included, skirts, hose, heels, and button-down shirts.

The Casual Writer:  leaned towards clean and comfortable. Making the statement, I need not impress anyone vibe.

The Funky Writer: dresses in ripped jeans, a Queen t-shirt, rainbow colored hair, kind of rock-band vibe.

After all that research time, I threw the research conducted away. I have now published five books and have concluded that it did not matter how I dressed. I realized my writing attire at all times is to wear pajamas. It is inspirational and comfortable. When I leave the house, well, it is whatever is available in the closet. Dress for success is no longer in my vocabulary. I look at going to the store, post office, or whatever errand I am on, as going incognito. You never know what you may hear while waiting in line that generates your next big story.

So if you’re a writer, wear what makes you most comfortable, even if the UPS guy reminds you it is three in the afternoon, as he takes in your pajamas when you answer the door.

For further research, let me know what your writing style is in the comment section below.

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Kacie’s Review of The Corps Justice Series by C. G. Cooper.

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I love adventure, crime, and political fiction books. C.G. Cooper’s brilliance shines in new and unexpected ways in the Corp’s Justice series. I have just finished the sixteenth book in the series, and every one of those books has an unexpected twist. It is a journey through the lives of an elite team of former soldiers.

The principal character is Cal Stokes, who is extremely brave, loyal, yet has many vulnerabilities. Watching him grow, fall, and get back up is not only a joy, but inspiring. His friendships are amazing, funny, and when one-character dies, you grieve right alongside Cal Stokes. Every book in the series grabs your interest in the first few pages, holds you close, and takes you on the adventure with them as they fight for this country’s freedom.

Amazingly enough, as an avid reader I wonder how I did not find C.G. Cooper’s books earlier. How I came to find this brilliant author was, I had just finished another crime series, and was searching my Kindle for a different read. I came across the Daniel Briggs series and thought it might be an interesting read. I can honestly tell you it took me exactly four days to finish that series.

The Hubby was wondering if I would ever cook again and asked me if he should be concerned with whom this Daniel Briggs was. He has since reminded me that while I was reading the Daniel Briggs series; I was telling him each day what Daniel had done that day. He did not realize I was talking about a book. He was wondering where I met this guy.

After finishing that series, I took a few days off, fixed the Hubby some food, but could not get my mind off on how great these books were. Daniel Briggs dragged you right there beside him through the entire series. So, I pulled out my Kindle, and I was off on a search for another series by C. G. Cooper. I came across and read the Corp’s Justice 1-3 box set, not yet realizing there were an overall of 16 books in the series.

The most striking thing about the Corp’s Justice series is the brilliance of C. G. Cooper’s ability to build characters. Throughout the series, new characters come in, and a few lost. It shows how their team builds their friendships and have fun arguing at the same time. The challenges the team face, the foes, or enemies they face in each book are nothing short of riveting.

I cannot name a single aspect I did not like about this series. The result, sixteen books composed professionally, fully researched, and filled with diverse personalities. I give this series five stars and highly recommend you take the time to read this series. It will take you on a course filled with action, adventure, crime, and romance.

I am also now impatiently waiting for October to come, when book seventeen, “Matters of State” is due for publication on Amazon. Now that I have finished all sixteen books over the last few months, I am sad to say the Hubby has lost ten pounds, but he now knows how to order take out delivery.

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Giant By Nature: A Short Story. Part Three.

The final part of Giant by Nature. I hope you have enjoyed the story.

I pulled my head into my shell just as the truck came to an abrupt stop, pushing me hard enough into the box surrounding to break the front of the box apart. Tommy’s father opened the back of the truck and putting a ramp against the back of the truck for me to walk down. I heard Tommy say, ‘Come on Fernando, we need to hurry.’ Then I heard Tommy’s father yell, ‘Julie, get Tommy on the boat.’ I didn’t know who Julie was, but I watched as a woman grabbed Tommy and ran. I moved as fast as I could down that ramp. That woman had Tommy. I had to save him. I followed the woman as fast as I could, hearing Tommy’s dad saying, ‘Hurry Fernando!’

When I got to the boat, I could barely breathe. I may swim at twenty miles an hour in an ocean; on land is another story. My stubby legs and arthritis only let me go so fast, but I made it. As the boat was pulling away into the ocean, everyone on the boat including me, I saw and heard a lot of noise and saw many lights. I figured unless they were going to swim, they were not going to catch me.

I looked around, and the woman was holding Tommy. She was holding him, rocking him back and forth. I walked over to Tommy and stretched my neck for a scratch hearing him say, ‘Mom this is my friend Fernando.’ I was relieved, I didn’t have to worry, that woman was Tommy’s mother.

It was a long trip. I was glad I had the time to spend those days with Tommy. We sat in the sun, and I gave Tommy rides around the boat. That woman, his mother, she fed me watermelon every day. I thought earthworms were good. I could spend all day eating watermelon. I don’t think they realized I could go a year with without eating or drinking anything, but I wasn’t going to turn down the snacks they were giving me.

One morning I was sitting in the sun napping, Tommy was lying on my back and I heard Tommy’s father say, ‘There is the Island!” I looked out the back of the boat and indeed I was home. I was excited and sad at the same time. Tommy climbed down from my back, and said, ‘Fernando, you are home!’ I honked in response to him.

I watched Tommy begin to cry, and I rubbed my head on his red shirt. I knew it was time to say goodbye. I listened as Tommy’s father and the Captain talked about how they could push me off the boat so I could swim to shore. I think they were wondering if I would know what to do.

Tommy’s father said, ‘It is time Tommy Fernando is home and we need to let him go now.’ I rubbed my head on Tommy’s leg and stretched my neck one last time for a scratch. Tommy scratched my neck. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said, ‘I love you, Fernando. Don’t ever forget me. I don’t want you to worry, I will be okay now that I know you will be safe.’

Tommy’s father and the captain opened the door on the back of the boat. I looked at Tommy one last time and dove into the water and swam to shore. I walked to join the others sunning on the rocks and raised my flipper to wave goodbye to Tommy as I watched the boat begin to sail back to San Diego.

I looked at Mateo, and he was smiling. ‘Great story Dad, I am glad you came back home.” “I am too son, now go on back up the hill to the women, I bet they have a treat ready for you. I am proud of you Mateo. Remember this story and tell the others.’ ‘I will dad!’ I watched Mateo move back up the hill. As I looked out across the calm deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if Tommy was at peace. It was time to find out. Time to look for that next neck scratch from Tommy. I am one hundred and fifty-one years old. I looked at the Island one last time knowing that Mateo and the other sixteen hundred offspring I have produced would carry on my legacy. All I must do is jump in the ocean one last time, and Tommy and I will be together again. Raising my arthritic body, I jumped into the ocean. Hitting the cool water, I am at peace.

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Giant By Nature: A Short Story – Part Two

Welcome to part two of my Giant By Nature Short Story. Enjoy! Watch for the last part of the Story next Saturday.

The next Saturday morning, I was at the fence waiting for Tommy to arrive. I saw his father waiting in line with his friend, one of the zookeepers. I didn’t see Tommy. I was worried. Why would Tommy’s father be there without Tommy? I waited for their turn to come. Tommy’s father said, ‘Hello Fernando, I have your carrots.’ I stretched my neck, looking around him, trying to find Tommy. I reluctantly took the piece of carrot; Tommy’s father gave me.

I heard Tommy’s father say to his zookeeper friend, ‘He is looking for Tommy. I was at the hospital this morning, and the doctors told us that Tommy only has a few months left, that the seizures in his brain are getting worse. I don’t know what to do. Tommy’s only wish in life is for Fernando to be safe once he is gone.’ I watched Tommy’s father’s eyes fill with tears. I honked, trying to let him know I understood. I listened closely as his friend said, ‘Then that is what we will do. Tomorrow night we will take Fernando. I have a friend who owns a boat. Fernando originally came here from the Galapagos Islands to bring his species back from extinction. He has done his job. What do you say we take him back home?’

I got excited. These two men wanted to take me home. I started honking loudly, shaking my head back and forth. I needed them to realize that I understood them. Tommy’s father said, ‘I think he can understand us.’ Then he gave me a fat earthworm and said, ‘I will be back tomorrow night with Tommy, Fernando. We are taking you home.’

I ambled up to my favorite rock wondering how to say goodbye to the girls. The next morning, the girls and I went for a swim and sunned ourselves on the rocks. It was time to say goodbye. I said to the girls, ‘Della, Corrine and Fancy, I have news. I am leaving tonight. Tommy’s dad and that zookeeper, Bert, are coming to get me tonight to take me home to the Island. I want you to know I will miss all of you. It is time to say goodbye. Soon another turtle will come to take my place.’

Poor Della, she couldn’t breathe. She said, ‘I don’t care who they bring, I will have no part of him. None of us will, right, girls? There will no longer be any eggs laid at this zoo. I will miss you Fernando, but I am glad you are going home to live out the rest of your life in peace. If a distraction is needed when they come for you tonight, we have that covered.’

Never have I felt such love. I spent the rest of the day sunning and wondering what life would be like on the Island. Darkness fell, and I heard a truck and I knew Tommy’s father had come. They had a gigantic box and had laid carrots out. I believe they thought they needed to entice me into the box. I was ready. I was going home. I went willingly into the box, picking up a few carrots on the way.

We were off! I could hear Tommy in the front of the truck say, ‘Thank you Dad. Fernando will be happy on his Island.’ I was happy to hear Tommy was with us and not in the hospital. I didn’t mind the bumpy ride at all.

Suddenly, I heard loud noises. I had heard them before, coming from the road in front of the zoo. My box filled up with blue and red lights. The truck started to slow. I could hear Tommy’s father say, ‘It’s okay Tommy, we will get Fernando to his Island.’ I shuddered. I knew something was wrong. I listened carefully to the men talk outside saying, ‘Bert, what do you have in the box?’  Bert laughed, and said, ‘It’s Fernando, the missing sea turtle. Looks like the old guy went for a walk. Found him five miles from the zoo, just strolling down the boulevard.’ I saw a face looking through the slats in the box. I smiled at him and started to sing, letting him know I was fine.

I heard the man say, ‘You are not headed back to the zoo, Bert. Where are you going?’ Bert laughed and said, ‘I was having dinner and thought Tommy here would like to go help search for Fernando, I am just dropping them off at home and heading back to the zoo.’ Listening, I heard the other man say, ‘Sounds good. I will let the zoo know you found Fernando and are on your way back.’

The lights moved away, and I heard Bert say to Tommy and his father, ‘We have to move fast. The boat is waiting.’ It felt like the truck I was in was moving fast. I was having a hard time keeping my balance and for a seven-hundred-pound turtle that is not easy.

It wasn’t long after that I could smell the saltwater. Wouldn’t you know it? I could hear those noises and see the blue and red lights again. It seemed like the truck was going even faster. Then the truck turned to the left, and I almost tipped over. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I didn’t know what Tommy would do if I had to go back to the zoo.

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Words Have Power When It Comes To Racial Injustice, Use Yours.

On May 25th, 2020 our community, our State, and our world watched the behavioral outcomes of systemic racism displayed by four Minnesota police officers responsible for the killing of a human being. We watched as one white officer in an intentional act of overt discrimination knelt on the neck of a Black man, while three other officers were complicit displaying gross negligence and in action in the death of George Floyd.

 Again, we are reminded of the injustices that exist in our world. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue. The late Dr. James Cone in his book, The Cross and the Lynching tree wrote: “The claim that whites had the right to control the black population through lynching and other extralegal forms of mob violence was grounded in the religious belief that America is a white nation called by God to bear witness to the superiority of white over black.”

It is time that we all must actively come together to help combat systems of oppression for all minority groups. It is well within our responsibilities to support and advocate for our family and friends when systems have continuously failed them. We as white people need to take personal accountability for how we continue to perpetuate racism at every level in society. We need to educate ourselves on how to be vocally anti racist. Then we need to take that knowledge and apply it every day, becoming effective in the stance of opposing systemic racism. We often hear all lives matter. Well, all lives can’t matter if Black lives don’t matter.

We all have heard those words, “I can’t breathe.” George Floyd uttered those words in May 2020, Eric Garner uttered those same words eleven times in 2014 before dying. It is the collective voice of black Americans and we as white Americans must acknowledge those words and act to resolve. We must and can do better at dismantling a system that favors us and work together to build a better future of equality and dignity for all Americans. 

As writers, our words matter. Our words have power. How many of us challenge ourselves by including people of color in our novels? Do you use people of color as a stereotype, such as an Asian man is great at martial arts? Together we must all work together to dismantle inequality. We can all work to being more conscious when writing what we love. Do your part in making change, make your words matter.

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Giant By Nature: A Short Story

Excited to share a new short-story I wrote recently. I will share the story in three parts over the next three weeks. I hope you enjoy it! Please leave a comment, telling me what you think of the story.

Part One

I am a Giant of Nature. When you are a sea turtle as old as I am, one hundred and fifty years old. All you want to do is lie on a rock and take in the sun. My son, Mateo, five years old, seemed determined not to let me spend my afternoon napping. “Dad, how did you come to be on our Island?” He asked. I stretched my long leathery neck to look back up the hill to see what the others were doing. They were all resting. Stretching my arthritic body, I smiled at Mateo. He was always interested in everything. Mateo always had a story to tell.

I smiled at Mateo, looked out at the calm sea off the Galapagos Islands and began my story, knowing that Mateo would tell the story again and again.

I was one hundred years old and living at the San Diego Zoo. One Saturday morning, I slept in late, and went out to the yard that overlooked the pool where I often swam. I found the girls, Della, Corrine, and Fancy already enjoying the sun of the day.  Della said to me, ‘Good Morning Fernando, it is Saturday and your sleeping in. Won’t be long and the children will arrive for their visit.’ Then Corrine said, ‘I hope they bring good snacks this week.’ Fancy laughed as she said, ‘Corrine, is that all you think about is the snacks?’

Moving towards the pool for a dip in the cool water, Della said to me, ‘I am worried about your little boy, Tommy. I think he is getting sicker, Fernando. He is now in that chair that rolls around. His dad pushes him everywhere.’  I nodded my head in agreement, thinking Della was right. It had only been the last few months that Tommy would not or could not walk anymore, but I didn’t know what was wrong with him.

Glancing in the pool, I saw my reflection. My face was an old yellow color. After four decades in this breeding pen, I should have expected it. My shell was looking like a house that could use a fresh coat of paint. My excitement in life was my Saturday visits with Tommy. He always brought the best carrots and that red shirt he wore every week was for me. As I jumped in the pool, I thought of the nice neck scratches Tommy gave.

A short time later, seeing the children arriving, I lunged off the rock in the middle of the pool and swam to the bank. Tommy should come soon. I watched as the girls moved to the opening in the pen, letting the other children pet them and feed them snacks. Looking around, I saw Tommy sitting in that chair, alone while he waited in line. Where is his dad? The two zookeepers were standing with him. Tommy looked upset as I ambled towards the fence where Tommy was sitting.

As I got there, Tommy was crying, and his dad was trying to console him. I may not have ears, like Tommy had, but I could hear him speak. Tommy said, ‘But Dad they said Fernando is too old now. They will take him away and bring another boy turtle in to replace him.’ Shocked, my beady eyes widened. The Zoo planned on taking me somewhere? I watched Tommy wipe his nose on his shirt, and heard him say, ‘Where is this place, euthanized Dad? Can we go there?’ ‘Where did you hear that word Tommy?’ Tommy’s father asked. ‘The zookeepers said that he is too old and needs to go to euthanized. Where is that dad?’

I couldn’t move, Euthanized? I knew what that meant. They were planning on killing me. I heard Tommy choke, not being able to catch his breath. It scared me. I moved closer to the fence and stretched my long neck so Tommy would see me. As his father was giving Tommy a drink from that bottle, I pulled my body onto the rock next to him and started singing. Tommy saw me, and I watched as he laughed.

‘Fernando, you are here! I promise I won’t let them take you away to euthanized, I will save you. I love you.’  I sang higher, and as Tommy moved up in the line, I followed him, staying close to the fence. ‘My dad and I cut your carrots last night Fernando, and I even brought some earthworms I had dad dig up last night for me.’

I smiled at Tommy, honking even louder in response. Earthworms, my favorite! When Tommy got to the opening, the girls moved aside. They could see Tommy had been crying and needed to spend time with me. Tommy scratched my neck lovingly, giving me first a piece of carrot and then an earth worm. Though I enjoyed the snacks, I could tell Tommy’s head hurt, and it worried his father. I looked at his father, while I stretched my neck further for Tommy. I saw the tears in Tommy’s father’s eyes and my heart broke. There was something wrong with Tommy. As he stroked my neck, he seemed weaker.

I heard the bell ring; it was time for the next group of children to have their turn. I looked at Tommy as he whispered, ‘I will save you Fernando, I can’t die knowing they will send you away.

Die? Tommy would die. He’s just a kid. I was 100 years old. Why was he going to die? I watched as his father patted Tommy’s shoulder and started moving him away, back to their car. I felt sick. I ambled back to the rock I sat on most of the day, not interested in the other children.

As I climbed up on the rock, I heard Fancy say, ‘Something is wrong with Fernando girls, let’s go.’ The girls moved away from the waiting children, to sit with me in the sun. I watched the disappointed children that had been patiently waiting their turn, as the girls came toward me, taking their places in the sun. Della asked, ‘What’s wrong, Fernando?’

I lovingly looked at the girls, who had been part of my life the last seventy years at the Zoo and said, ‘I have outlived my purpose. They are planning to kill me and bring in a younger male.  Worse, my friend Tommy is dying. I am not sure why, but there is nothing I can do.’ It had been a long morning. I pulled my head into my shell to reflect on my life and what was to come. Unless a miracle happened, my life was soon ending. If my life ended, what would become of Tommy?

Watch for Part Two, Next Saturday!

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NEW RELEASE: ARCTIC EAGLE

It has been a joy to write this book. Though the publishing has been challenging. I am including the first two chapters. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and will consider buying.

I will reward a FREE E-book version of Arctic Eagle on June 12th, 2020 to one lucky new subscriber!

I am excited to announce starting Saturday, June 13th, I will share a weekly three part short-story with you! Giant by Nature. The story of friendship, between a sea turtle and a little boy.

Now on to your sneak preview!

CHAPTER ONE

The spring breeze pushed past her sundress as she opened the door to the Estes Park Coffee shop. Gliding up to the counter, Dana, the owner of the shop, already had her order waiting. One large café Mocha and a Cranberry Scone. Dana smiled as she watched Cindi “Higgy” Higgins breeze through the door. “A wonderful Monday morning to you Higgy, I have your order ready.” “You know me so well, Dana.” Cindi said. Dana laughed from behind the counter, saying, “I do Higgy, I just added it to your tab.” As Cindi walked to her regular table, in the back corner of the coffee shop, she thought, Higgy, what a nickname to have. Laura Henderson is to blame for that nickname. She missed Laura. She missed the activity of playing with Laura’s kids. Cindi was honored to be the godmother to all three of Laura and Tom Henderson’s children. She would call her tonight, and they could catch up.

Sitting at the table, she opened her laptop to check her email, as she did every morning before walking a block over to the White Hat Risk Assessment office, where she worked. Taking a sip of the hot Mocha, her eyes grew wide, her heart raced. Flaming Feather? That was a name she thought she would never hear again. Staring at the screen in wonderment, she thought it has been ten years since she talked to Danny Davis, aka Flaming Feather. Why would he be contacting her now? Opening the email, the message read,

                          Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me, you know where to look.             

Confused, she read it a second time. Not sure what to do, Cindi sat back in the chair, her thoughts drifting back to her childhood, her past, Danny Davis. Flashes of memories raced through her thoughts, their teenage romance, their arrest, and their conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Looking back at the laptop screen, to read the message again, she found it was no longer there. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Cindi moved closer to the screen of her laptop. The screen was blank, the message gone. Did she imagine it? Confused, she searched her email. There was no record of it ever existing. If she did not get moving, she would be late for work, Cindi hastily closed her laptop and packed it in her messenger bag. Grabbing her cup of coffee to go, she walked down the block to start her day at work.

Briskly entering the offices of White Hat Risk Assessment, Cindi walked to her office, saying good morning to her co-workers as she passed by their desks. Reaching her office cubicle, Cindy sat down. She had a new account to work on today. A Bank whose security system needed to be tested. Turning on the computer on her desk, she stashed her messenger bag underneath the nearby shelf in her cubicle. She spent the next few hours before lunch hacking into the Banks system, finding multiple ways to gather their client’s confidential information.

Stretching, Cindy was startled when she heard her co-worker Mary Stewart say, “Hey Higgy, want to go get some lunch?” Turning in her chair to find Mary behind her, she said, “Not today, I am just going to get some air before I start the report for the bank. It was a breeze getting into their system this morning.” Laughing, she continued, “It is going to take two weeks to get their system secured. Your grandmother could have hacked into that system.” Mary giggled, saying, “I am not teaching my grandmother the tricks of this trade. I will see you after lunch Higgy.”

Cindy stood, grabbing her messenger bag. She walked outside to downtown Estes Park. Feeling the sun’s warmth, and taking a breath of the fresh mountain air, she looked down the street. Tourist season had not started yet, the streets filled only with local patrons. Sitting on her favorite bench around the corner from the office, she gazed up at the surrounding mountains, amazed that even though it was warm for a late April day, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Opening her laptop, she again searched for the email she thought she received that morning from Danny. Nothing was there. Closing her laptop, her thoughts went back to her teen years.

As children, Cindi and Danny were raised in the same foster home. Shortly after Cindi turned 16, the FBI arrested her with a group of five others called the MiamiLink Club. Besides her and Danny, the other three kids were also foster children in various homes in the city. In Miami Florida, they used coffee shops, libraries, and internet cafe’s as their location for hacking into first the local phone company giving them the ability to make free long-distance calls and listen to customers’ calls. They then moved on to hacking into corporate networking systems, as a challenge to see if they could. The Club would have contests on who could break into a company the fastest and do something crazy like implant a worm or change their client’s personal information. Then Chen Williams, one of the club members, the weak link in the club, decided it would be fun to infiltrate the Pentagon network. He never was very smart. That is when they were arrested. Cindi’s code name was Arctic Eagle. Her best friend and boyfriend at the time was Danny Davis, code named Flaming Feather. He was the one who taught her how to hack. 

Cindi remembered the trial, and how terrified she was. Convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, she was sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention center, with three years of probation, and a fine. During her time in the Juvenile Detention Center, Cindi received her GED. With help from a guidance counselor at the center, she became certified as an Ethical Hacker.

Upon her release, that same counselor helped Cindi get a job far from Miami in Estes Park, Colorado working for the company she worked for today. She had been a part of the White Hat group for the last eight years. After her arrest, she had never spoken to or heard from Danny Davis again.

Standing, she thought, that was then, this is now. She had a an excellent job, a cute apartment above the Coffee Shop, friends, and she was now an adult at twenty-six years old. It was time to leave the past behind, and work towards that promotion she wanted as a lead Computer Security Specialist, which would give her a decent raise and the chance to manage a team of four other Specialists. Cindi stood, going back to her office to start the report for the Bank account she had worked on that morning.

CHAPTER TWO

Six days later, on Sunday, Cindi sat at her small kitchen table eating the ham and swiss sandwich she had made for lunch, admiring the new soft yellow color of the walls, her and Dana had painted yesterday. Watching it rain out her window, she picked up her phone to call Laura Henderson, her friend and confidante. Waiting for Laura to answer, she heard Laura say, “Higgy! It’s been two weeks since we talked, hang on.” Cindi could hear Laura say, ‘Charlotte, get off that table before you fall. Tom lift her down and give me a few minutes to talk to Higgy.’ Cindi heard Laura’s husband yell in the background, ‘Hi Higgy!’ Laura focusing back on the call said, “Higgy, how are you? Did you get the kitchen painted? I didn’t see any pictures come through yet.” Cindi laughed and said, “Its done, Dana and I spent all of yesterday painting. I love it. How are the kids?”

Laura replied, “Well, as you heard, Charlotte was dancing on the table. At two years old, I wonder about her sometimes, she is always climbing up on things. Michael is doing fine in Kindergarten, his favorite part of the day is nap time, Kevin, who may not live till next month to turn four, is into everything as usual. Did you get the promotion at work?” Cindi laughing said, “I find out next week. I sure miss you at work, Laura. Though, I must tell you, I appreciate the queen-size bed in our bedroom here, rather than the two twin beds.” Laura giggled, and said, “I miss the quiet evenings, when we could sit and watch movies, eat popcorn, and drink wine. I have not had a quiet evening since Michael was born. When are you coming for a visit?” Cindi replied, “I have two weeks of vacation built up. Depends on whether I get this promotion. If I get it, I want to settle in and get my team together, if not, I will make the trip to cry on your shoulder.” Laura laughed loudly, “So what else is new Higgy? Have you met anyone yet?”

Cindi smiled, “I have no time for a man in my life, Laura.” Feeling a chill go up her spine, Cindi said, “Something happened, I am just not sure if I am imagining it or not.” Laura stood, saying, “Hang on, Higgy, I will get Tom to watch the children.” Waving at Tom to watch the children. Laura walked out to the patio in the back of their California home. Sitting on the chaise lounge she said, “I am outside now, it’s quieter. Tell me what happened?” Cindi replied, “Do you remember when I told you about Danny Davis and the story of my teen years?” Laura replied, “I remember, why?”

Cindi said, “I got an email last week from Danny. I have not heard or talked to him in ten years. All it said was if something happens to me you know where to look.” Laura, aghast, said, “What? That is cryptic. Did you reply?” Cindi said, “I was so stunned. The email came from Flaming Feather, his code name. When I went back to read it again, it was gone.” Laura, surprised, said, “Wow! He had to do some searching to find you Higgy, and then to find your current email, send the message and then make it to look like it never existed. What are you going to do?” Cindi replied thoughtfully, “I will do nothing. That part of my life is best left buried. I do not want to open that door again. It is too risky, and life is good. I cannot mess that up.” Laura replied, “That is probably for the best.” Looking up, Laura saw Tom standing at the door, with a crying red-faced Charlotte. Laura said, “Looks like Tom is having trouble with the baby. Text me some pictures of your kitchen and text me as soon as you hear about that promotion. I got to go, Bye Higgy, I love you girlfriend.”

Cindi stood from the table and put her dishes in the sink. Taking a few pictures of the kitchen, she texted them to Laura and then decided with the rainy afternoon, it would be a good idea to take a nap and read that new romance novel she picked up last week at the bookstore.

Monday morning started as usual. Stopping at the Coffee Shop and walking to work. It was still raining. As Cindi entered the office, she closed her umbrella and moved to her desk. Looking at her in-box, she found three more files of new accounts. Placing them on her desk, Cindi sat down, ready to work on the new files. A few minutes later, Gina, her boss, stopped at her desk and said, “Great job on the Marshall Bank account. Can you stop in my office this afternoon? I would like to discuss your new job duties. Congratulations Cindi, the promotion is yours.” Cindi smiled and said, “Really? I got the promotion. Sure, I will be there promptly at one. Thank you, Gina.” Gina beamed, saying, “You deserve it Cindi. I will see you this afternoon.”  When Gina had walked away, Cindi swung her office chair in a circle in celebration of her new promotion. Picking up her phone, she quickly texted Laura, ‘I got the promotion!’

Setting her phone down, Cindi opened the top file on the pile she received in her in box and started working. Looking at her watch, thinking it was time for lunch, she would have just enough time to have a sandwich and go to her meeting with Gina. Hearing her cell phone vibrate, she looked to see a number from California calling. Answering, she said, “Hello?” She heard a man’s voice say, “Good morning, am I speaking with Cindi Higgins? This is Samuel Herschel; I am the attorney for Daniel Davis.” Cindi felt like her heart was about to stop. Trying to take a breath, she found it difficult. She said into her phone, “This is Cindi Higgins, what can I do for you?”  Mr. Herschel replied, “I am sorry to tell you this over the phone, Ms. Higgins, but Mr. Davis has passed and named you as the executor of his estate. I was wondering if you could come to Los Angeles in the next few days to settle the estate.”

Cindi whispered, “Danny is dead? I have not seen or heard from him in ten years. Why would he leave everything to me? How did he die?” Sam Herschel replied, “Mr. Davis informed me you were the closest he had to family, saying you would know what to do with his estate. I am sorry to inform you; they have ruled his death as suspicious. You have not heard from Mr. Davis in ten years? That’s odd.” Cindi felt the energy leave her body, saying, “Suspicious? What does that mean?” Sam replied, “All I can tell you Ms. Higgins is that his death is still being investigated.” Cindi, taking a deep breath, asked, “Mr. Hershel, do I really need to come to Los Angeles to settle the estate or can we do it by email?”  Sam Herschel said, “Mr. Davis has left you his house, and all his belongings, and a considerable amount of money. You will need to come to my office to sign the paperwork, receive the new deed and keys to the home.”

Cindi’s thoughts started flying a mile a minute. She had just received a promotion. Then her heart sank when she remembered the email, she received from Danny last week. Quieting her mind, she said, “Mr. Herschel, I will need to make some arrangements here at work, can I call you later this afternoon, with a time I can arrive?” Mr. Herschel replied, “Yes, that would be fine. I will email you my office location so you can make the proper transportation arrangements. I will look forward to hearing from you later today. Good day, Ms. Higgins.” 

Cindi set her phone down on her desk. Her eyes filled with tears. Danny was dead. Fear entered every core of her body. Danny’s death was suspicious and with the email he sent her last week, he knew what was coming. What the hell has he dragged her into now? There is no other choice, I will have to see this attorney. Feeling like her past was rushing back into her life, against her will, Cindi stood and walked out of her office to sit on her favorite bench outside. She needed some air; it was hard to breathe. Sitting on the bench, she was unaware of her surroundings. Her mind kept going over the email, Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me you know where to look. She had no choice. She would have to go to Los Angeles. She would have to find what Danny wanted her to find. Forty-five minutes later, she entered the building. She slowly walked over to Gina’s office.

 Cindi knocked softly on Gina’s office door. Hearing Gina say come in; Cindi entered her office. Gina looked at her watch before saying, “Cindi, right on time.”  Cindi sat down in the chair across from Gina’s desk saying, “Gina, something has come up. There has been a death in what you would call my family, and I need to go to Los Angeles and close out the estate. I know you scheduled this meeting to talk about my promotion. Thank you for having the confidence in me to award me with the promotion, I appreciate it. I am sorry, but I need to use my vacation time to handle this.”

Gina looked at Cindi quizzically. “Family? Cindi, when you came to work for me, I understood that you grew up in foster care. What has happened?” Tears rushed to Cindi’s eyes, “It was one of the other foster children in our home, Danny Davis. He has left everything to me, and his attorney has asked I come to California to settle the estate. His attorney asked that I come to Los Angeles to sign the needed paperwork. The attorney said there is a home involved. I need to find a real estate agent to put the house up for sale. As soon as I am done with that I will be returning.” Gina looking surprised said, “It wasn’t one of the boy’s you they arrested you with was it?” Cindi nodded silently, saying, “I haven’t seen or heard from Danny in ten years so I do not understand why he would do this. I do not even know how he found me. When your sister, Camila, made the arrangements for me to come here to start a new life, I know she did not tell anyone what she was doing and took great care in making sure no one would find me. So, I am as surprised as you are.”

Gina nodded her head. Remembering when her sister Camila called her about Cindi. She said she was one of the most talented hackers she had ever seen. A young girl tied into a group that could have destroyed her life. She thought Cindi was a decent girl who could make a difference in the world with her talents. So, she agreed to give her the start she needed, setting her up in an apartment over her best friend Dana’s coffee shop and giving her a job. Over the past eight years, Cindi had flourished and proved her worth to White Hat Risk Assessment.

Gina looked at Cindi and said, “I understand Cindi, take the two weeks and when you return, we will get you set up with your new team. I am bringing four new employees in from around the States. They are young, with similar backgrounds such as yours. I believe you are the one to guide them into becoming assets to White Hat. When are you planning on leaving?” Cindi replied, “I will make the arrangements to leave from Denver tomorrow. If that is okay with you.” Gina said, “Okay, give your new account files to Mary, and check in with me, letting me know when you will return. In the meantime, I will have your team settled in and ready to start when you get back. Why don’t you go home and get things settled to leave? I am sorry you have to deal with this Cindi.” Cindi gratefully looked at Gina saying, “Thank you Gina, I will call you soon.”

Cindi went back to her desk. Straightening her desk, she took her new work files to Mary, saying, “Mary, I have to leave for two weeks to take care of some family business, Gina asked me to give you these new accounts to complete.” Mary replied, “Sure Cindi, is everything okay?” Cindi nodded, and said, “Yes, just some unexpected family business to deal with. I will see you in two weeks.” Cindi went back to her office, got her bag, and walked back to her apartment, stopping into the coffee shop to let Dana know that she was leaving for a couple weeks.

Entering her apartment, Cindi sat down at her desk in the living room, opening her laptop. She quickly made flight arrangements to Los Angeles and organized a Lyft to take her to the Denver airport at nine am the next morning. Checking her email, she saw she had received the email from Sam Herschel. Cindi mapped out his office, finding a hotel within a two-block area. Making one night of reservations, she thought if Danny had left her his house, when she got the keys from Mr. Herschel, she could take a Lyft to the house and stay there. Emailing Mr. Herschel her travel arrangements, she informed him she would be in his office at ten a.m. the day after tomorrow.

Cindi went into her bedroom to pack her suitcase for her upcoming trip. Once completed with that task, she went back to her laptop finding an acknowledgement for the appointment time with Mr. Herschel. Closing her laptop, Cindi quickly reopened it. She conducted an internet search for Danny Davis. Finding nothing but the article of their arrest, she again closed her laptop. Going into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine and settled into the plush deep brown couch in her living room. Taking a sip of the wine, she set the glass on the coffee table in front of her and picked up her cell phone without looking at it. She should call Laura and let her know she was coming. Staring at her phone for a few minutes, she thought better of it. She would call Laura when she got settled into Danny’s house, a house that was now hers. Picking up her glass her wine, she said to herself, if anything happens to me, you know where to look. With a deep feeling in her gut, she knew that her life was about to take an unexpected left turn; she downed the rest of her glass of wine, drew a hot bath, and went to bed.

The next morning, Cindi rose and quickly dressed, getting ready to leave. Carrying her suitcase down the flight of stairs, she walked out the door of the apartment and into the Coffee shop, where she ordered a large Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone to go. Seeing the Lyft pull up in front of the coffee shop, her coffee and scone in hand, she pulled her suitcase behind her out the door. The driver loaded her suitcase in the trunk while she settled into the back seat for the hour and a half drive to the Denver airport. Taking a sip of her hot coffee, she placed it in the cup holder next to her and pulled the romance novel she had started the other night out of her bag. Reading a romance novel would keep her thoughts of what was coming at bay.

If you enjoyed the first two chapters, you can get your Free Unlimited Kindle version here.

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Covid 19 Shut In: Day 30. A Month In Review

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Though spring is a time of new life, renewal, and warmer weather, I have been spending the morning reflecting on the last month.  It is day thirty of the shut in because of the Covid 19 Virus. My hopes are that everyone reading this is well and healthy.

Foremost, one thing I cannot comprehend is why there is a current toilet paper shortage. Is that really what everyone thought of purchasing first? Why not frozen or canned food? Relevant items to use when you are locked in your home. I do not believe that toilet paper is an effective item to prevent getting the Covid 19 virus. There are closet’s around the world filled with toilet paper.

The last thirty days at home have been nothing short of interesting. My mother-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s lives with us full time. Normally each morning she enjoys watching the news and reads aloud what crosses the television screen at the bottom of the screen. How do you explain the Corona Virus thirty or more times a day to an Alzheimer’s patient?  The solution? Subtitles. I found she will read anything running across the bottom of the screen while you watch something else. Though I have found the Andy Griffith Show on Netflix has kept her laughing without subtitles. Do you know that there are over one hundred and fifty episodes of Andy Griffith?

Then there is the fun of opening Mom’s experiences to Face time and Skype. Trying to figure out how she can see herself and her loved one on a phone and laptop is nothing short of amazing. Then comes the irritation of why can’t they just come and visit, why are we doing this? The most heart wrenching part of all this, is even though Mom can’t remember five minutes ago, there is that space of real time when she hears something on the television and you witness the confusion, the fear, and the realm of anxiety that comes for the next few hours, even though she can’t remember why.

Another realization in my reflection is how I am learning not to even watch the local news stations. If I hear one more word about having so much more time to clean house, tips on how to get your kids to help clean house, or anything that has to do with filling my time with cleaning house, I swear I will toss the television out the front door.  I think they should air repeats of Bob Ross shows, or DIY’s on making something creative.

I am trying to make good use of my time. In the early morning hours, I work on writing a new book, Arctic Eagle. Over breakfast with Mom, we have in-depth discussions on planning a deck garden. I have visions of her watering the plants in the mornings, while I sit nearby on the deck writing a new mystery series, The Cold Case Chronicles.

Random thoughts race through my mind. Will much change when we can go to the store again together? I know she will wear a mask. Will the garden centers open in time for us to plant a garden? Dare I make a trip to Walmart for potting soil and seeds? Will I run out of craft supplies? I do not see that happening in the next five years, but the concern is real. Will I have to cancel my vacation plans to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August? This will be over by then, right?

I am fortunate my husband is essential, as he reminds me of this daily. He is a truck driver. My daughter owns a hair salon and going insane being home. She has taken to painting signs, I recently found one outside the front door that said, “Made with love and other shit.” She is coloring swear pages, and trying not to panic about losing her business, making her mortgage, having enough to buy food. She is one of those business owners that does not qualify for unemployment. The Grand kids are enjoying the break from College and sleeping till noon daily.  This is my life, keeping everyone calm, keeping mom occupied, and being thankful the hubby is working, so we can help family members who need financial support.  So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. Stay calm.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO JANUARY

I personally find January to be the dreariest month of the year. In Minnesota we currently have mountains of snow, and today we are expecting another foot to land on my doorstep. This wonderful month tends to be the longest month of the year. Though I must admit, as the snow falls from the sky, it is beautiful to watch and creates a picture-perfect landscape. It is hard to imagine that Spring will be arriving in just weeks. Of course, Garden Catalogs are already arriving in my mailbox! That one thing provides hope.

January can also be the most depressing month of the year. Though I am not one to get depressed, I have found a multitude of ways to get through the month, so I don’t lose my mind. I have a few items I keep in my bag of tricks and I will share them with you.

I purge my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in the last year. I must admit, three bags went in the donation box this year. I am beginning to wonder if I am clothes hog.

I live in Minnesota! Once the temperature hits thirty below, I accessorize! I put on my multiple layers of sweaters and my winter coat. I often wear a cute scarf and matching mittens.

Let’s keep it real, my bank account does not allow me to go someplace warm. However, I would recommend it for anyone who can. May I suggest, Nevada. Not only is the weather warmer, but they have casino’s and buffets. I especially recommend Laughlin, Nevada. Great food, warm weather, and penny slot machines.

Eating! I tend to bake a lot of cookies during January. Today I will be mixing up a batch of peanut butter cookies to get me through the on-coming snowstorm. I also like to try new recipes during January. Creative cooking is always good for the soul. I especially like creating new soups in the crock pot.

Start a new project! I always start my new craft projects in January. Be it a new afghan to crochet, new set of dish towels to embroider, or a new quilt to sew. Okay, I will admit, I start all three each January. It is important to note, I have 52 unfinished quilts to complete in my sewing room.

I write. Whether it is starting a new year journal or working on a current or new novel, I write. Nothing like getting stranded at home in another foot of snow on top of the three feet you already have, to get your mind working on a story. I try to place my locations in warmer climates.

Television is a staple. New shows start in January, then there is always Netflix!

Remember Spring will be coming, though looking out my window it is hard to imagine. My pool is yet not buried in the snow, so you will often find me gazing lovingly out the window, saying, Hello Pool, sixteen more weeks and I can fill you again.

Remember we can do this! We are survivors! Leave a comment how you get through January.

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Setting Your Vision For 2020

For years, I set New Years Resolutions and never accomplished a darn thing.  So I found a strategy that worked for me.  At the beginning of December, I go over my past year’s goals and reflect on what I have accomplished and where I have failed.  Yes, I can tell you now, we all fail at one time or another, it’s a part of life.

I look at the accomplishments as wins and failures?  I spend the time to reflect on what I could have done to improve on my success.  What worked and what didn’t work. 

I reflect on whether my actions indeed brought me closer to my overall vision for the year.  Did your’s?  So I ask, did your actions bring you closer to your yearly goals?  If not, you cannot expect the things in your life that you need and want to change: to change.  Everyone has their different walks in life.  The setting goals process is not a one size fits all method, but it is unique to your life’s vision.  Whether it is personal goals or career goals, the goal map is yours to make to create change and success.

Here are some reasons to set those goals:

Goals will always provide you with a starting point and a destination to reach.

When you write your goals out, you see where you are going, what changes you need to make at the mid-point of the year, and if you are progressing in your goals.

The process of writing your goals will help you clarify your desires, understand their importance, and commit yourself to achieve them.

Remember there are always some sacrifices to be made, but stay committed and overcome the challenges.  Work on your plan.

Your goals will help you focus your attention on your purpose and inspire you to be better.

When setting goals, be sure to define them in your overall vision for the year.

The secret to achieving your goals?  Start them.

Journaling Tips

Write your goals for the year on the first page of your journal, or create a vision board.  Whichever you choose, it will be there as a reminder for the year ahead.

Every month, take the time to review your goals and write about your accomplishments, consider the changes you need to make, and reflect on the challenges of the month in moving forward with your vision.

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HOW TO SELL HALLOWEEN TO A SKEPTIC

Halloween is one of the most likely holidays of the year met with much skepticism.  Parents spend time planning costumes for their children as little monsters, vampires, ghosts, witches and the current fad of the year for princesses and heroes.  What child doesn’t love collecting candy?  I have childhood memories of being three or four years of age, thinking it was the best time ever.  I learned all I had to do was ring the doorbell, and the person gave me candy.  I thought it was so great; my mother told me I was out ringing doorbells in the middle of the night looking for more candy.  After that incident, she no longer allowed me to eat a lot of candy after returning home from Trick or Treating.

The origin of the Halloween holiday began over 1900 years ago in Europe.  A Celtic celebration of a new year celebrating the days as when the souls of the dead supposedly mingle with the living. They celebrated the holiday with large bonfires, often still done today.  However, many religions look at Halloween as a pagan day.  So let’s view as to why we should love the Halloween holiday.

You can be what you want to be

One of the primary reasons to love Halloween is that people can dress up to be whoever or whatever they want to represent. It is like a night to play “make-believe.” It’s not just about the scariest outfits, but it is about imagination and characters that depict your personality or have inspired you the most.

You can play dress-up without worrying about any judgment. We can make bold choices and go as something people don’t associate with us. It usually is the perfect time to open up and be brave.

The Adrenaline Rush

 The rush is the best part of all adrenaline seekers. Unlike all other holidays, this one is exciting as well as thrilling. You can do all the daring things and scary things that previously frightened you. This holiday makes you want to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself for new ideas.

If you happen not to be an adrenaline seeker, you can watch horror movies or scare other people just for fun.

Candy

One primary reason to love Halloween is the amount of free candy that you can collect. Typically kids aren’t even allowed to have that much candy, but Halloween seems like a free pass, and you can have as much candy as you like then. Apart from this, you can get all types of sweets like toffees, chocolates, popcorn balls and so much more. Adults are also known to have a sweet tooth. Nobody says no to free candy, so why not avail it when you can. And we believe even those skeptics can’t refuse some good candy.

Carving Pumpkins

One of the favorite activities of Halloween is carving the pumpkins, which is very exciting. All the family members usually carve the pumpkins to display them around the house. Making weird and scary faces on pumpkins as well as making Jack O Lanterns is an exciting activity that makes you love Halloween and pumpkins. Some places even hold the best-carved pumpkins competitions to celebrate the best-carved pumpkins.

Don’t have to buy gifts

Some of the skeptics who find Christmas better need to know that Halloween doesn’t require you to buy gifts and give them. You can wear your bed sheet and collect candy. Without spending a single dime, you can have most of the fun at Halloween.

Decorations

Another one of the reasons to celebrate Halloween is the amount of exciting and scary decorations. Halloween decorations are creativity at its peak. The spider webs, hanging bats, carved pumpkins, cauldrons, and ghosts hanging around give the place an eerie vibe and festive feel. Creating the decorations is an open-door to creative ideas and putting them in motion.

A Different Kind of Connection

On Halloween, people often dress as monsters and other scary creatures, which help to reduce any fear of the unknown or the supernatural. As a holiday, Halloween allows people to dress up into things they are most scared of, and this helps them remove any fear of the being.

Halloween encourages people to be brave and be firm against our fears. It connects us with our concerns as well as the unknown realm. Halloween encourages us to take a peek into that realm and feel comfortable with it.

Conclusion

Halloween is one eerie as well as a thrilling holiday, different than all others. Some might be skeptical, but even they will be convinced by reading all the above reasons. Some like the decorations; others love sweets, but most importantly, Halloween helps us realize our mortality and helps us face our biggest fears in the form of dressing up like them.

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Will Girl’s Trip’s Ever Rule The World?

Nothing is more exciting than spending quality time with girlfriends. But nowadays in a busy world staying in touch with friends can be hard.  Sometimes our friends live miles away or have moved to another State to establish her career, and now you all are living away from each other. Why arrange a long weekend Girl’s Trip to spend time together? Spending a memorable time with your friend’s is exciting and memorable because:

Girls Like Adventures

We know how to enjoy every little moment with friends. Girls have massive excitement for trips across the world with friends to enjoy every moment and make it memorable. According to our secret sourcebook, girls when traveling, do not like to go fast, be lonely, and we never want to visit someplace alone. We like to move at a slower pace, which allows us to collect moments, take photos, and build exciting memories. 

Diet doesn’t matter

You cannot enjoy your Girl’s Trip without having great wine and yummy food. In my case, excellent Root Beer.  Eat and drink whatever you want. No need to worry about calories. Forget the dieting and eat everything to celebrate the moments. 

Girls love to do Gossips

What is more fun than gossiping with your girls? Yes, this is the favorite hobby of every girl. What others wear, how they live, what we love to discuss with our girlfriends? But remember one thing; while gossiping about someone make sure that person is not around you otherwise you will be responsible for any upcoming situation. 

Girls love to do shopping

I can surely say shopping is my weakness, and when we visit a new place, we have an urge to buy every unique thing we find.  Now it’s our best friend’s duty to keep us in the budget and stop us from purchasing a lot of useless items. We must pay attention and warn them if it is a beautiful item that won’t fit in the vehicle on the road trip home.  Most things, if needed can be mailed back home.  Look at all the options when making purchases.

RULES FOR A GIRL’S TRIP

Dress up in whatever you want

In our daily routines, we often are dressed in business clothes or whatever fits in our career wardrobe. On a trip with your girlfriends, you can wear whatever you want to wear. Feel comfortable and feel relaxed about what you are going to wear. Your friends will not make fun of you. Make every moment remarkable and excellent. 

Capture every moment

Great pictures are an excellent way to remember your trip. It can put a smile on your face even when you’re having a bad day. Girls love to take selfies and we-fies. Take pictures of every moment.  Whether you are in a hotel or cabin,  girls like to take photos of every corner of the hotel or cabin, and then they love to take pictures of food and share it on social media like Instagram and snap chat to their other friends too, of course, show them what fun they are missing.

Life is too short, you may spend 70 years working to make money or to establish yourself, but in the end, you may have no friends to spend time with, to share your achievements and dreams. So do not waste any time in making plans for a Girl’s Trip.  Decide on a location with your friend’s, and make the weekend memorable and joyful.

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Reflection: Expectations VS. Reality

Beauty surrounds us.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The air is crisp; the trees are in brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellows.  This time of year is the perfect time to sit out on my deck in the early morning with that first cup of coffee, watching the sunrise and breathing in the smell of fallen leaves on the ground.

It also begins my time of reflection for the year. Reflecting on what my expectations were for the year vs. the state of things as they exist today — reality, those things that we can and cannot see. 

As I reflect on the past year and the expectations, I set for myself; I found a valuable lesson.  Always expect the unexpected.  I am retired, enjoying the quiet days to myself while the hubby is at work.  I joined a writer’s group, belong to a social women’s group and love to spend the early morning hours on my deck starting my day journaling, then moving to spend the day working on my Ignited Secrets Trilogy.  I enjoy the fact the children are doing well; the grandchildren are all now in college and life is good.  My expectation?  I am going to become a full-time author.  What better way to spend retirement, right?

Then life happens.  As we age, our parents get older, and we must ensure they safe, healthy, and happy.  My siblings and I did for our mother, who passed nine years ago.  I had lost my dad when I was twenty-one.  My mother in law suffers from mid-stage Alzheimer’s.  She had been living with her daughter for the past four years.  Life changed for them.  Her husband took a new job in another State.  Therefore, our life changed; someone needed to step up and care for mom full time.  Mom has moved in permanently until which time she needs twenty-four-hour care. 

Expectations vs. Reality.  I still take the time to journal early each morning, but most of my writing is now happening on my kitchen table, rather than my sacred space in the garage.  Yes, I had my hubby build me an office/quilting room in the garage.  What was once a two-car garage, became a one-car garage.  By writing at my kitchen table, I can answer the multitude of questions my mother in law has throughout the day. 

It amazes me to watch her, realizing she is in the moment.  A place most of us strive to be.  Though for her, that moment is all she has.  No five-minute past, no one-minute future.  Yesterday while the President was on every channel of the television for most of the day, she was trying to figure out what he was talking about and why he seemed angry.  Mom is 87, and her generation listened when the President talked.  Then she wanted to know why someone didn’t fix the lighting. He looked orange.  I covered these questions a hundred different times yesterday as if it was the first time she had asked.  I became creative; how do you explain today’s world? 

Here I am in my season of reflection, adjusting my expectations, and making new expectations for the year to come.  I write out my hopes, beliefs, and my dreams for the future.  Similar to New Year’s resolutions, though I learned long ago I do not stick to resolutions.  Hence the new word expectations. 

I split them out in three categories, my hopes for my grandchildren and how I can assist them in their direction.  That can be anywhere from financially to embroidering them a new set of dish towels for their new apartments as they start their life path.  I reflect on my written life mission and vision statement, making the changes needed to stay current.

 I then spell out my dreams for the year, what do I want to accomplish as a writer, how many quilts do I want to make this year or finish, and what growth do I want to see in my self for the year.  These are my goals.  Simple right? 

My signal for reflection is the changing of the leaves, my sign for setting expectations is the first snowfall and breaking my goals down to achieve success begins December first to be prepared to start the New Year with a bang.

Everyone has different ways of continuing their journey through life.  I find mine works for me.  I encourage everyone to find their way to make each new year the best year of their life.  For mom, I fully intend to make this next year a year of feeling safe, happy and fresh-baked cookies on the counter every day. 

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WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Everyone has a story.  Life is a journey, and each new day begins a new chapter for each of us. How are you telling your story?  Keeping a journal allows us to write down our experiences, our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams for the future.

 I have been journaling for over the last fifty-plus years, and I still have every one of those journals.  I recently took the time to look back at the journals I kept as a teenager.  I must be honest here and admit I am in my mid-sixties today.  Looking back on my teen years, I would have to say in all honesty; I am lucky to be alive.  I was a wild child, though it was a different time in the late sixties and early seventies. 

Those journals are jam-packed full of poems, drawings, trials, and tribulations, all of which have brought me into what is I believe is called the golden years of my life.  Looking back, I understand how those years have shaped the woman I have become today.

One of the things I found in reviewing those journals of my life is that I could carry on a complete conversation with myself.  I would ask myself a boatload of questions or complain about my parents, fights with girlfriends, and that description of my first kiss left me holding my stomach. I was laughing so hard.  The point is, I was spending a lot of time self-dialoguing with myself.  Did I answer the boatload of questions?  Not always at that particular time, but looking ahead in years, I found they pretty much answered themselves.  Oh, and by the way, I got over the traumatic experience of French kissing. 

What I did find interesting is when I would come across a problem I needed to solve, I always asked the same four questions.  To this day, I still use those, but the wordage is a bit different.  Any life problem I have had, I asked my self the following questions for many years:

  • What is the purpose of my having experienced this the last (timeline)?
  • What am I trying to do here?
  • What lesson am I supposed to learn from this experience?
  • What’s the real issue of personal growth for me in this experience?

It is important to note that these questions are not easy to answer in the throws of chaos.  The last time I used them, it took almost a year to work through the issues.  However, it will help you work through the experience and come out on top of it, with a clear understanding of why this what meant to happen.  As I said, the last time I answered these, I came to understand one of the many valuable lessons.  If you don’t listen to your guides, they will pick you up and throw you on the floor.

Another factor I recognized was that I was establishing future goals, whether it be New Year’s resolutions, or a daily, weekly, or monthly goal.  By writing out my goals, I was able to write out a plan on how to achieve them and identify any obstacles that stood in my way.

Another realization I had, with goal setting, is that I found the way I dealt with the goals when they didn’t look like I was going to reach them was to write out the problem and readjust the aim to bring it to reality.  Similar to a Plan B strategy, though sometimes I made it to Plan W.  We all take different paths in life.  Often those paths reached a crossroads, and it’s then I would have to choose to go left or right.  When I was making those choices, it was interesting to see I eventually reached my goals, though the journey could sometimes be challenging, sometimes risky, but fun.

Through the twists and turns in my life journey through the years, came personal growth.  That’s the thing with journaling; you can go back and reflect on where you have been and how much you have grown. I worked through so many issues along that journey in my notebooks that it was interesting to read on how my analytical skills evolved in handling life challenges, how I wrote out each twist and came up with a way to move past the turns. 

The other surprising aspect was how my creativity opened.  I would use colored pens, draw, glued or taped in pictures of my friends and I going to concerts, or hanging out at Cherokee Park, pictures from magazines, right down to my favorite cookie recipes. News flash, I still do that today.  I have a giant bucket of gel pens and even to this day tape in exciting things I find. I also have been known to dry flower petals I have grown and glue them in as well. 

If you’re not journaling today, you should consider doing so.  Your life is extraordinary, and your journey is meaningful.  Every experience brings a lesson, joy, and success in your life.  It will bring you to your authentic self, open your consciousness and bring transformation to your life.  So, start recording your life today, I promise when you look back in your journal five years from now, you will be amazed how far you have come.

I have designed a journal that you can use to start recording your journey.  Yes, I had that creative idea of making my own journal’s.  You can find “The Journey to Enlightenment” on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1095908324?pf_rd_p=183f5289-9dc0-416f-942e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=15R387RZXCY83XYEPJS4

COVID 19 MASKS: WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

black framed eyeglasses on paper
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Reflecting over the past six weeks, I ponder what I have lost. Networking with other authors, seeing anyone else in general. Though I am an introvert, every so often I do like to see others. At first, I lost my momentum to write, but joining NaNoWriMo Aprils Camp got me back on track and I was able to finish my newest book “Arctic Eagle,” and get it to my editor, Masani.

What I have not lost? Weight seems like no one can take that from me. I cannot seem to quit baking. Though, my mother in law and husband, seem to be enjoying the dozens of cookies, bars, brownies, and bread. My body is screaming Stop!

Now let us talk about masks. I sewed three hundred masks and donated them. However, I should have attached a warning note with them. You see I wear glasses. Big black glasses. So, I go to the local grocery store for some needed items. I put on my homemade mask, get out of the car, go inside, grab a cart, and a disinfectant wipe and clean that baby down.

I walk first to the produce section, you know, where they have those plastic bags you can put produce in? Well, I grab two. One for each hand and quickly insert hands in bags. Thought I should pick up a few oranges for mom in law, fruit is good right? Healthy. They had just filled the bin. I want to be sure to pick the best oranges, juicy ones. I stand in front of the filled bin, picking one, then two oranges and placing them in an individual plastic bag. My goal was six. I think to myself, this is going well, I am being responsible, for my health, and everyone else’s. I smile, and quietly giggle.

As I am reaching to choose a third one, I suddenly realize something is wrong, I cannot see! I grab the third orange, wondering what in the world? What happens? Yes, at least three dozen Oranges are suddenly hitting the floor, I cannot breathe, and I cannot see. I sense the produce man running towards me.

Turns out when you wear a mask, and wear large glasses, they tend to fog up when you breath. Having plastic bags on your hands, does not help your ability to take your glasses off. So here I am looking at the young produce man, glasses fogged, saying, “Help Me!”  Mind you he is a teenager. He takes my glasses off my face, smiles, at least I think he was smiling, I did not hear him laughing. Let me give you a visual. Without my glasses I cannot see a thing. I wear my glasses, but also need to wear readers, when reading, or working on the computer.

As he was calmly wiping my glasses off on his shirt, I was trying to remove my mask with my plastic covered hands. Finally, a not so nice word came out of my mouth, I ripped those plastic bags off my hands, and took off my mask. The nice produce man, handed me my glasses, and said, “Its okay, I will clean this up.”

I thanked that young man. Turned and put my cart away. I went back out to the car, drove home, and made a list. I sent my husband to the store. I may never go back.

So that was how my Sunday went. How was yours? Please feel free to share, with anyone you know who wears glasses.

FINAL SECRETS

Final Secrets FinalLast week I was thrilled to write the words, “The End.” Finishing the last book of my “Ignited Secrets Trilogy,” which left me feeling proud, accomplished, a bit overwhelmed and sad. I will miss my characters. They have been a part of my life for two years. Three women with secrets, all who grew personally within each story, learning to accept themselves for who they were and who they came to be.

Of course in all honesty “Shadow of Secrets” came to me while I was sitting on my deck painting a rock, thinking, Okay Kacie, you have been forced to retire, are you going to spend the rest of your life painting rocks? What is next? Then it dawned on me, I could be an author.

When I started the first book, “Shadow of Secrets,” is was to be just one book about an environmental mystery Fraud in the renewable energy industry. This was an experience, I watched evolve firsthand, and it disgusted me. Though my book is fictional, the circumstances different, yet similar, it was an experience that impacted me deeply.

Near the end of writing that first book, is when I realized that this could be a trilogy focusing on the main women in the book. Each woman had a story to tell. I surprised my self at the story line as it went on. What started as one book about an environmental mystery, turned into three and by the end of the third book, we had a Mexican Cartel/Mafia war involving the Irish Republican Army and CIA fictional Black Op’s teams. Mind you I am surprised the FBI has not showed up at my door, considering the online research I have been conducting.

It’s amazing how stories evolve as they are written. Soon, I must start the next book, “Arctic Eagle.” In a world full of risk, a quiet Cyber Operations Specialist is pulled into a worldwide chase to stop a terror attack in Los Angeles. Arctic Eagle came to me in a dream. I know right? My dreams should be one of peace, happiness, expectations.

More research to come. If the FBI shows up at the door, I will post a link to donate towards my bail. If I survive the next book, I may start a series of novella’s called The Harris Graystone Mysteries. What mystery could the Girls from the Ignited Secrets Trilogy solve next?

Lesson, life doesn’t end at retirement, we can achieve our dreams no matter how old we are. We all have stories to tell. What’s your story?

Interested in reading Final Secrets? Click Here.